M is for “Marcia”, Marsha, Marcia and Magic

Who hasn’t had some Marsha’s in their lives?

My big sister Deb was my Marsha Brady. Growing up I always felt like she was better at everything. She was slim and gorgeous. Boys liked her. She was more athletic. She could paint. She was smart. She was popular.

Sometimes I felt like Jan. Sometimes I felt like Cindy. I lived in her shadow for a long time, and even have had moments as an adult where I felt like I could never live up to her glory. But, slowly I have stopped the comparisons and learned some of the ways that I overshadow her. I admire and respect her, but I no longer any desire to be her.

But today I want to talk about two other Marsha’s, who have also influenced me in some ways. The first I mentioned yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright, Marsha Norman.

The first presentation of the scene I directed seemed to go over well, including some tears in the audience. It wasn’t perfect, but that had to do with a minor annoyance and I took care of that. Of course, Marsha Norman didn’t see it, so the nerves are still there. This pictures is a little blurry, but it is of my actresses performing at the bottom of the stairs in the William Inge Boyhood Home. These are the stairs that inspired Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Later in the day I attended a panel discussion with Marsha Norman and Sheldon Harnick discussing Adaptation for the Stage.  Both had amazing things to share. Sheldon has this vast history in musical theater working with some of the biggest names and he is a delightful story-teller. Marsha has the talent and power of a woman who has succeeded where many women still struggle. She said a few things that really resonated with me that I thought I would share.

When discussing how you choose a book to turn into a musical and how you approach that daunting task, she discussed the importance of reading the story to discover why people want to see it again and again in different forms (for example The Secret Garden). In the case of this story, she argued that people love to find hope.

The third Marcia I would like to mention today is another playwright, Marcia Cebulska.

Marcia is an incredible women that I have had the privilege of getting to know since I moved to Kansas. She is working on The Greensburg Project, where she will write a play developed by working with the citizens of Greensburg, KS about their lives after surviving a tornado in 2007. She was one of the women I worked with during the intensive theater workshop (which was the initiating workshop for the Greensburg project) which I wrote about in my post called “I Love Women”. I also facilitated a staged reading of her play The Bones of Butterflies which is a beautiful story  that focuses on the migration of monarch butterflies and the relationship a daughter and her missing father. That description doesn’t do the play justice, but it is a hauntingly beautiful and powerful piece. I attended a panel discussion with this Marcia as well today, where they discussed more details about the Greensburg Project. Unfortunately I had to miss her other workshop, where the discussion revolved around giving authentic voices to the characters when doing worked based on real stories. The more I get to know this amazing woman, the more I want to learn from her–about how to incorporate my passion and the respect she has for others into the words I pour on the page.  I am so lucky to have met her,  and hope to get to know her better.

The day ended with me getting a kind of surreal lecture from a conference guest about the “real reasons” behind the Inge Festival and why it should take years for me to get any recognition (even though he doesn’t know a thing about me, and was basically implying that I don’t work hard enough. If any of my few readers have learned anything about me it is that I work . . . hard.) Luckily, this discussion was cut short by the blare of  tornado sirens. This is the first time I’ve ever been happy to hear the. 😉 The tornado cleared the area, and the day shifted to that beautiful post-storm, end of day light including one of the most magical things in the world.

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So there you have it, the Marsha’s who have influenced my world with a little bit of magic included. Okay, they aren’t all named Marsha, but they all have made me think about how I view myself, others, my relationship to community, and my responsibilities as a creative person in this world.

I’m learning a lot this week.

L is for Late Nights and Legends

I begin writing this post at 11:30 pm Wednesday evening. I probably won’t publish it until after a I sleep a little (so I can check more clearly for flow and such) but I cannot help but write. My head is full of music and song. My dreams are full of possibility. Despite the fact that I probably got about a cumulative 3 hours of sleep on Tuesday night, I cannot lie down yet. I also won’t be able to completely rest until Nathan gets home, and he will probably be working until at least midnight after starting at 7:30 am.

Why such crazy hours? Why the mind full of chaos?

Wednesday was the beginning of the William Inge Theatre Festival here in Independence, KS.

William Inge

 

What is that you ask? Well, it is one of the main reasons that we made the move here. William Inge was an American Playwright who was born here in Independence. The festival that grew to honor his memory focuses on playwrights, each year handing out awards for new plays as well as honoring one specific playwright for his/her entire body of work and commitment to the field. For better descriptions of this event, visit the blog called Postcards from the Inge.

Sheldon Harnick

I spent the evening watching a the premiere staged reading of a new musical by Sheldon Harnick (who wrote Fiddler on the Roof) called A Docter in Spite of Himself that was based on a Moliere play. It was fun, fabulous, and truly entertaining. The cast, who flew in for this reading and the festival, included Tony Award winner Cady Huffman (The Producers) and Anthony (Rapp). (By the way, excuse the name dropping, but it will help you get a bigger picture of the whole event.)

Marsha Norman

This year the honoree happens to be one of my favorite female playwrights, Marsha Norman, who won the Pulitzer Prize for ‘Night Mother and as well as a Tony Award for the book of Secret Garden. She also wrote a play that I directed years ago called Getting Out and it was one of the best directing experiences I’ve ever had. The following slide show contains shots from that production presented at Castleton State College in Vermont.

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I’m nervous about meeting this talented woman.

As part of the festival which includes workshops and other play readings, I am directing a scene to be presented at William Inge’s boyhood home. The scene is from ‘Night Mother and Marsha Norman might actually come see it.

What if she hates it? What if she loves it? What if she says nothing at all?

My actresses are fabulous and we worked really hard. It is a heart-wrenching scene, and I think we have all done good work.

So I think it will hurt the most if she says nothing at all.

I’m also doing a Panel about Theater for Young Audiences, but I don’t really know what we are discussing. I could make a complete fool of myself, or I could say some intelligent thing.

This could be the week that I collapse before legends, or it could be the week that I shoot for the stars.  Let’s hope for the latter.

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